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LitSoc’s top 10 must reads for lockdown

a picture of three book covers
  1. The Collected Ghost Stories of M. R. James

Who doesn’t love a good ghost story! M. R. James is the master of suspense, and of creepiness, and his short stories are unsettling rather than gruesome. All are good, but make sure to check out Canon Alberic’s Scrapbook, Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to you, My Lad and Lost Hearts. Short, easy to read and perfect for wintry lockdown nights. Read before bed for extra shivers. 

  1. Half of a Yellow Sun – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Written in 2006, this novel takes place in 1960’s Nigeria. It is an enthralling read and is a landmark in African literature, which sadly is often neglected by the western canon. Adichie deals with themes such as class, love and colonialism, and exposes the lives and experiences of Africans during the turbulent Biafran War.

  1. Ghostwritten – David Mitchell

Mitchell weaves together multiple narratives into an exciting sci-fi novel. An interesting narrative, and themes that are very relevant re Trump’s personality cult today. 

  1. Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier

A 1938 classic gothic novel, Rebecca takes the reader on a dramatic journey, with lots of unexpected twists. It’s loads of fun to read and has you hooked from that iconic first line: “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderely again…” 

  1. Wolf Hall – Hilary Mantel

No one does historical fiction better than Hilary Mantel (bar maybe Robert Graves – see: I, Claudius) who tells of the rise to power of Thomas Cromwell in the court of Henry VIII with meticulous detail and beautiful style. Along with a gripping story, she questions the distinction between truth and history to great effect. 

  1. Dune – Frank Herbert

Another sci-fi novel, Dune is a classic – and a page turner – and is the perfect book to whisk you away from lockdown reality. It tells of the rivalry between the noble houses of an interstellar society in the distant future. Read it before the release of the movie adaption next year!

  1. Death on the Nile – Agatha Christie

Queen of the cosy crime novel, Agatha Christie continues the escapades of Hercule Poirot – this time the crime takes place in Egypt while cruising along the Nile. Among the boat’s passengers are a crazy ex-girlfriend, a kleptomaniac, and (the horror) a communist. Remember: expect the unexpected. 

  1. The Letter for the King – Tonke Dragt

Perfect for the lower school, this is an adventure story with a lively cast of heroes and villains and makes for an atmospheric read. A must for fans of fantasy, romance and knighthood.  

  1. Fatherland – Robert Harris

In the same vein as The Man in the High Castle, Harris describes an alternative ending to WW2. While it starts as a detective novel, this particular whodunnit leads to the discovery of a crime on an unimaginable scale. 

  1. Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro

While recounting her childhood in an idyllic boarding school, the narrator slowly reveals the tragic truth of her life and those around her, and in doing so discusses the question of what it really means to be human. As always with Ishiguro, not all is as it seems… Semi-dystopian. A captivating read. 

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